Sleep Loss Accelerates Brain Aging: Study

Thursday, 03 Jul 2014 02:27 PM

By Nick Tate

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Getting a good night's sleep may help you stay sharp mentally as you age, a new study suggests.
 
Researchers at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore have found that the less seniors sleep, the faster their brains age. These findings suggest sleep deprivation is a significant factor in cognitive decline, including dementia.
 
Past studies have demonstrated that sleep quality and duration can affect the cognitive functions of older adults, but the latest study suggests why.
 
The Duke-NUS study examined tracked 66 older Chinese adults, who underwent structural MRI brain scans measuring brain volume and tests of cognitive function every two years. Researchers also asked the seniors how well — and how long — they slept each night.
 
The results showed those who reported sleeping fewer hours had distinctly different brain features that have been linked to age-related cognitive decline and the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's — specifically: faster ventricle enlargement — than those who slept more hours.
 
"Our findings relate short sleep to a marker of brain aging," said lead researcher June Lo, M.D. "Work done elsewhere suggests that seven hours a day for adults seems to be the sweet spot for optimal performance on computer based cognitive tests. In coming years we hope to determine what's good for cardio-metabolic and long term brain health too."
 
The study was published in the journal Sleep.

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